Social History of Race, Health, and Environment

This working group aims to create new avenues of inquiry in the history of medicine by focusing on the social and material aspects of health among a host of past peoples globally. This group focuses on the health experiences of subaltern or racialized groups.
The group meets on the second Friday of every month, from 4:00 to 5:30 PM Eastern time.

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Consortium Respectful Behavior Policy

Participants at Consortium activities will treat each other with respect and consideration to create a collegial, inclusive, and professional environment that is free from any form of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.

Participants will avoid any inappropriate actions or statements based on individual characteristics such as age, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, nationality, political affiliation, ability status, educational background, or any other characteristic protected by law. Disruptive or harassing behavior of any kind will not be tolerated. Harassment includes but is not limited to inappropriate or intimidating behavior and language, unwelcome jokes or comments, unwanted touching or attention, offensive images, photography without permission, and stalking.

Participants may send reports or concerns about violations of this policy to

Upcoming Meetings

There are no currently scheduled upcoming events.

Past Meetings

  • June 10, 2022

    Maria John (Assistant Professor of History and Director of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program, University of Massachusetts Boston), "Whose Responsibility? Federal Government Policy and the (Mis)management of Indigenous Healthcare, 1950–1970” 
    Comment by Tess Lanzarotta, Postdoctoral Fellow, Science and Human Culture Program, Northwestern University

  • April 8, 2022

    Ángel Rodríguez (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Research Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School), “The Ecology of Scientific Expeditions: Vestiges of the Health and Human Sciences from Quiriguia, 1880-1935”
    Abstract: This article is about Quirigua, the ancient Mayan city located in the Motagua Valley of eastern Guatemala. It tells the layered story of its discovery as an outcome of scientific expeditions during the late-19th and early 20th-century. Specifically, this history examines three expeditionary efforts to Quirigua led by Harvard affiliated scientists in Archeology, Anthropology, and Tropical Medicine.
    What is an expedition? How is it an activity or accomplishment in anthropology and medical science? How do we assess the specimens, publications, and other knowledge products as they circulated or remained in the library, museum, and laboratory? Ecology, for the purposes of this paper, serves as the organizing principle to tether these expeditions to the environment, disease patterns, indigenous culture, political economy, and international development across the region under study. This analytical framework allows us to retreat from the duality of Empire and Colony, center-periphery, or a postcolonial “theory” from below. The objective here is to focus on the connection between two sites--Harvard and Quirigua-- by acknowledging my own participation in a long genealogy of scholars to do so.
    Comment by Lee Baker, Duke University

  • February 11, 2022

    Juliet C. Larkin-Gilmore (ACLS Oscar Handlin Fellow, 2021–22, American Council of Learned Societies), "From Tahlequah to Yuma: The 1917 Oklahoma Health Drives, Health-Seeking, and Native Dispossession"
    Comment by Maria John, Assistant Professor of History and Director of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program, University of Massachusetts Boston

  • December 10, 2021

    Elise A. Mitchell (Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellow, History Department, Princeton University), "Medicine and Slavery in Early Caribbean Newspaper Advertisements"
    Comment by Rana A. Hogarth, Associate Professor of History, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 

  • November 12, 2021

    Preston McBride (Postdoctoral Fellow, Humanities and the University of the Future, University of Southern California), “Tuberculosis at Chemawa: Morbidity and Mortality in a U.S. Boarding School for Native Americans, 1880-1910”
    Comment by Christian W. McMillen, Professor of History and Associate Dean for the Social Sciences, University of Virginia

  • September 10, 2021

    Meghan K. Roberts (Associate Professor of History, Bowdoin College), "Making Race and Reputations in the Age of Enlightenment"
    Comment by Suman Seth, Marie Underhill Noll Professor of the History of Science, Cornell University

  • August 13, 2021

    Sean Morey Smith (Postdoctoral Project Manager, Rice University Humanities Research Center), "The Rush to Race: Benjamin Rush and Climatic-Racial Arguments against Slavery"
    Comment by Eric Herschthal, Assistant Professor of History, University of Utah

  • April 9, 2021

    Jessica Hauger (PhD candidate in History, Duke University), "Smallpox and Sovereignty: The Politics of Contagion in Indian Territory, 1898-1901”
    Comment by Juliet Larkin-Gilmore, Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow, Program in American Indian Studies, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

  • March 12, 2021

    Ian Read (Associate Professor of Latin American Studies, Director of International Studies, Soka University of America), "Racial Fevers: Yellow Fever, Race, and Climate in Brazilian History."  
    Comment by Urmi Engineer Willoughby, Assistant Professor of History, Pitzer College

  • February 12, 2021

    Farren E. Yero (Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, Duke University), “Caribbean Crucible: Smallpox, Safety, and the Ethics of Risk”
    Comment by Kristen Block, Associate Professor of History, and Program Director, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, University of Tennessee